Insights, News

Embedding Organizations Locally for Long-term Impact

Aug 5, 2021


The first in a series

Every year in each city we operate in, the local GreenLight team works closely across all sectors of the community to elevate an unmet need, search for programs effectively addressing that need elsewhere in the country, and, after a thorough vetting process, select an organization with the best local fit.

After pulling dozens of evidence-based, proven programs into cities where they are needed and providing multi-year, unrestricted start-up funding, we recognize that the on-the-ground support and partnership GreenLight provides is at least as important as the funding to ensure measurable impact and long-term sustainability.

Building Partnerships
Even before a program gets started in the new city, GreenLight works closely with the selected organization to broker fundraising and programmatic relationships that are key to their first several years of operation and beyond.

Many programs GreenLight selects have earned revenue and/or public dollars that contribute in a significant way to their model. We work to build long-term partnerships to make those programs successful and sustainable.

Springboard Collaborative, a portfolio organization in the Bay Area and Detroit, seeks to close the literacy gap and partners with schools, teachers and parents to implement their program. Springboard must develop strong relationships and gain committed resources from the schools to be successful in a new city. In Detroit, a citywide partnership led by GreenLight Detroit resulted in a $3 million philanthropic and public commitment and the initial rollout included eight local schools and literacy support providers.

“You can’t buy trust, but you can borrow it, and GreenLight lends its trust through relationships already built over time” – Alejandro Gibes de Gac, Founder and CEO of Springboard Collaborative

Navigating the Local Landscape
After brokering key relationships initially, dynamics often continue to change in the local landscape with transitions among elected leaders, school administrators and other vital partner organizations. GreenLight stays involved and helps navigate those changes to ensure sustainability.

Becoming a Man (BAM) is a school-based program that supports young men, particularly those of color in grades 7-12, through group sessions with their peers and the guidance of a trauma-informed BAM counselor. Counselors help young men develop social cognitive skills that deter criminal involvement and increase school engagement. GreenLight has brought BAM to Boston and Kansas City. Building and maintaining partnerships with the school systems is a key factor for sustainability.

“GreenLight’s understanding of Boston’s education ecosystem and relationships with key city stakeholders helped us navigate two superintendent transitions within our first three years of implementation.” – Shawn Brown, Executive Director, BAM Boston

Ongoing Thought Partnership
GreenLight is committed for the long term and recognizes the many challenges of leading an organization. It takes time to become embedded in the community and establish strategic relationships. Having a trusted partner on the ground can make all the difference.

GreenLight works with our portfolio organizations to establish an advisory board on which GreenLight EDs sit along with other community leaders that can provide support. In GreenLight cities with multiple portfolio organizations, GreenLight leaders bring the local directors together quarterly to learn from and support each other.

GreenLight tracks metrics for each of our portfolio organizations, key performance indicators (KPIs) defined at the outset of the relationship in order to reach shared goals. The data informs our work together and allows GreenLight to proactively provide customized thought partnership and support in whatever areas are needed.

“I cannot count the number of times Kate has provided direction that has helped lead us to a successful outcome. I find the ED lunches that Kate facilitates to be highly beneficial.” — Sahaar Rezaie, Executive Director, Genesys Works Bay Area

Our goals are ambitious and impacting outcomes take time. We are proud to partner with our portfolio organizations for the long term to impact much needed change.

“[Some funders] set you afire and then leave you afloat – the idea that a funder wants to move with you and be part of the journey is really powerful.” – Markita Morris-Louis, Chief Strategy Officer of Compass Working Capital, GreenLight Philadelphia portfolio organization

Read more about ways site teams are supporting our portfolio organizations:
Building Partnerships for a Strong Start – Food Connect in the Bay Area
16 Years Later, Partnership Fuels Innovation – Friends of the Children in Boston
Strategic Partnerships: Building Advisory Boards for Success
Building Enduring Partnerships for Regional Transformation – Center for Employment Opportunities in Charlotte